What Kind of Guitar Player Are You?
Under: Music Business
I thought it would be great to explore the idea of different kinds of guitar players. How that affects your career options, practice routine and even your goals. So, What Kind of Guitar Player Are You?
What has helped me massively is knowing from the start what kind of player I was hoping to become. And knowing what I wasn’t interested in and whether I believe I could make a living doing it.
So, I wanted to give you some general camps. I’m sure not everyone will fit into one but hopefully one or two will resonate with you. And this will help you to focus on what you’re trying to achieve and block out that which you aren’t. I’ve called them Mr, as most of you reading this will be guys. So, I’m sorry if you’re a girl.
We’ll explore in part 2 what that means for you and how to discover which one you are.
No, not Brad! Mr Pit is an exceptional sight reader, his work space is usually in a theatre pit (hence the name!). However, he might get calls for TV from now and again as part of a the house band where everything is sight read and he’s lucky to play through the songs twice before they either hit record or go live.
To get work and keep it coming, Mr Pit has become freakishly good at reading complex music on the fly, as well as being able to read and remember a few bars at once whilst playing a few bars behind, and do so whilst following the conductor (having one eye on each!). If anyone knows anything about preforming under serious amounts of pressure, Mr Pit does and usually nailed it first time!
Another skill Mr Pit is great at is to be able to play with a click track as many theatres are trying to use supporting tracks (supporting tracks contain Backing Vocals, horns, strings, harmony guitar parts, percussion etc.) with a 4 piece rhythm section, this helps to cut down the budget whilst using live musicians.
Mr Pit usually gets work through knowing musical directors who deal in theatre production or knowing the show’s director.
Mr on Tour
This guy (or girl), is great at playing the same songs exactly the same night after night, doesn’t want to be in the limelight and understand that his role is to stay in his lane, focus and play with the excitement of the first night of tour – every night. He likes seeing the world, although the demand of touring leaves little time for any major sightseeing adventures.
He’s good at learning the songs on a really deep level and rearranging multiple parts into a single guitar track for tour purposes (read budget!). He needs to be able to interpret the vision of the artist or creative director for the tour and maybe rewrite the odd guitar part in order to fit the vision.
Mr on Tour usually starts by playing club gigs and then progresses on to playing for the support artist on tours and then will usually get used when that artist breaks and by that time they are probably getting called for some pretty big gigs.
Mr Reader Session
This guy gets the call for movies, TV intro/outro, TV underscore (music within the TV show), radio jingles, music for adverts, etc. This guy can read fast and be able to move fast and can move from style to style without so much as a blink – and play them authentically. This work is usually the day job of Mr Pit.
The movie work is easier to break into as it’s usually contracted by session fixers or composers who know Mr Reader can deliver the goods. As it is all reading work, He has to get his part down with the rest of the band (which usually includes a 42 piece string section!) within a take or two – the pressures on as each bar costs thousands in just musicians’ wages alone. So nailing it first time through is a must.
As for the other types of sessions (Adverts, jingles etc.), most of this work is done by the composers who might play a little guitar (well enough to get by) and can be really hard to break into, as you don’t usually meet the guy who’s a jingle writer at the pub. Plus with these types of work, the budget is usually tiny, so the guitar part has to be nailed it within a take or two.
Mr Pop Session
This guy gets called to play on singles and album tracks. They usually get the gig as they have a strong personal style and can play something just like what’s on the radio at the moment. To keep getting booked for this type of work Mr Pop needs to stay current both in terms of sound and what he plays.
The trend with this work has become to have your own recording set up at home, so that you can be emailed tracks to work on and email them back with guitars.
Most of this work is about playing a few simple parts with different guitar tones. And making sure that producer leaves with a near finished song. You’ll usually start with a guide track with a rough vocal, some keys, drums and bass and maybe an acoustic guitar part (which you might end up replacing). A lot of these sessions will require you to be fast at writing out charts (as they aren’t typically provided – especially if it’s done over email), learning the song and coming up with multiple parts that enhance the song.
Unlike reading session where the composure has decided what he would like you to play, you’re interpreting what the artist or producer wants. Some will have a general overview, other will want to hear what you think (remembered that what you’re hired to for!), and some will mix the two together and will want to throw ideas around.
A lot of this work comes by knowing songwriters, producers, managers and session fixers.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this guy. His sole pursuit is to learn for the sake of learning and passing it on. He might not care too much about taking gigs or touring the world but helping others grow, learn and discover.
The best way to learn how to teach is to get out there do it. Try advising in your local paper. Use Facebook, Twitter and other social networks for promotion. Try using Google Adwords/Bing search Ads. There’s a load of free Adverts website like Craig’s list and Gumtree. It worth seeing what others are charging and pricing a little under that to start with. You can then start to raise prices when you have a few students.
He’s an artist in his own right. He’s writing the songs, acting as the Musical Director, fronting the band, giving interviews, pushing the next gig, signing merch. And all the other stuff that goes along with being an artist.
You generally have to find your own voice on the guitar. Plus creating a lasting career as a solo artist is a lot harder than doing sessions.
This is similar to the one above, apart from your part of the band. And therefore all band members can work as a team on promoting the band, engaging with fans and writing the material.
The first step is to get some friends together in a garage or spare room. Try to learn some cover tunes together. When your comfortable as a group then try to write some of your own material. Sure, it won’t be great but keep going. When you have a few songs, you need to book a gig and then just keep going from there. The more gigs you can do the better, as you’ll be learning, growing and improving at each step.
What Kind of Guitar Player You Are?
I hope you sore yourself in one of them! What Kind of Guitar Player You Are?